ESCONDIDO — As part of American Craft Week, Hawthorne Country Store and Stone and Glass hosted their own separate events on Oct. 12 to demonstrate their respective arts. The two stores are both situated off of Grand Avenue in Escondido, by the transit station. At Hawthorne, Carry Sullivan and her entourage put on a weaving workshop in the store’s apparel room. Hawthorne’s neighbor, Stone and Glass, hosted a class for people interested in how to make glass art.
Sullivan has worked with fiber, she estimates, between 27 and 28 years. Along with several other women who are fellow members of the Norge Lodge Knitters and Fiber Folk — a club that meets once a month at Norway Hall in Vista — they knit clumps of wool into various creations. “We basically do Scandinavian arts and crafts,” Sullivan said as she showed off a small gnome knit out of wool.
Around one table, they worked with a variety of small portable tools, like drop spindles and a heddle loom. Knitting has so consumed the group as a hobby, they’ve done it on ski lifts and at baseball games. They can even do it in the dark or without even looking at what they’re doing.
“Between all of us, we do just about everything you can do with fiber,” said Fiber Folk member Laurel Beale. “From carding, spinning, weaving, knitting, nålbinding — and we welcome everybody, we’re a totally inclusive fiber group.”
Since Sullivan and her group often weave Scandinavian-esque patterns, they held a workshop at the recent Viking Festival in Vista. They also do outreach to local libraries and schools in North County.
As for glass — which can technically be considered a fiber art — Stone and Glass is just half a minute’s walk away from Hawthorne. Intricate works are displayed in their studio gallery showroom, from little marbles of glass with flowers inside of them to more ornate cups with wild colors. Esther the sleepy-looking pug-chihuahua mutt patrols the show floor.
“When you have a gallery, you’re treated with respect,” said owner James Stone, noting that Stone and Glass did not have this respect at its previous locations in Rancho Bernardo and the warehouse on Simpson Way in Escondido.
The workshop is located directly adjacent to the showroom, where Stone and other glass artists work. The room hums with the whirring of an enormous fan to keep the place cool from the rumbling kiln and the reheating oven, their orange interiors glowing.
Stone and Jon Noble helped several people who had come for a lesson glass-blowing make their own glass creations, taking an enormous metal rod and using it to first blow a molten globule of glass, then rolling it in piles of crushed up glass — brightly colored from having been mixed with various precious metals — to give the final product more visual flair.
“Glass art is very expensive to do, and very hard to learn,” said Nicole “Zina” Losi as she made small birds out of milk-white glass, adding indentations into their wings by making small cuts with large iron scissors. Meanwhile, Chico State graduate Travis Wood ground imperfections out of a purple glass cup, using a gritted disc coated in tan-colored cerium oxide. Both their works will be put up for sale.
Stone and Glass is currently enjoying success after having escaped dire straits. They were forced to leave their previous location in 2017, following a fire at a neighboring mattress store inside the warehouse they both rented space from. However, CERF+, an organization that safeguards the livelihoods of artists nationwide, jumped in, and gave Stone and Glass a $3,000 relief grant. Though Stone & Glass went out of business for eight months before finding their current location, the store has found renewed success.
“Here, we get 25,000 cars a day that go by here, and people see our lights on at night, and they come in. And they’ve never been exposed to glass, but they see the lights and they can tell it’s kinda like a gallery, and they’re much more available to hear our story and spend real money,” Stone said.
Carol Rogers, Stone and Glass employee since 2014, and Stone’s wife, confirmed that 100% of the proceedings from the Oct. 12 event went to CERF+, which continues to build safety nets for craft artists in financial distress.
Alex Wehrung covers Rancho Santa Fe and theatre-related news in North County. He previously reported for The Daily Nexus in Santa Barbara, CA and the Escondido Times-Advocate in Escondido, CA.